Toyota Rush sets pace for new market segment

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Is it a sport utility vehicle? A multipurpose vehicle? An Asian utility vehicle? Or a combination of all three?

These questions popped up in the minds of those who attended the press preview of the Rush, Toyota Motor Philippines’ (TMP) newest offering, last Friday.

For the past 16 consecutive years, TMP has retained the Triple Crown Championship in the automotive industry mainly because it got all the bases covered with its lineup of 16 different models catering to every consumer segment.

But now, a new market base seems to be emerging, one which TMP intends to cover with the Rush.

The Rush, TMP’s 17th entry, is manufactured in and imported from Indonesia, like the recently launched Mitsubishi Xpander.

Positioning

Because of its affordable retail price—P1.07 million for the 1.5 G Automatic Transmission (A/T), P988,000 for the 1.5 E A/T and P948,000 for the 1.5 E Manual Transmission (M/T)—some industry pundits think that TMP is positioning the Rush not only to compete with Mitsubishi’s equally affordable newcomer, the Xpander, but also with the Honda Mobilio and Honda BR-V.

The Mobilio and the BR-V, both 7-seaters, are more upscale and sportier than the Avanza, Toyota’s entry-level 7-seater subcompact multipurpose vehicle (MPV), which is often categorized as an Asian utility vehicle (AUV).

The reasonably priced Mobilio and BR-V have eaten into the market of the Avanza, and in the process have established a new market base that TMP could be rushing to cover with the Rush.

But while TMP identifies the Rush as a new, entry-level SUV that is a class above the Avanza, it is powered by the same 1.5-liter Dual VVT-I gasoline engine as that of the Avanza.

Like the Avanza, too, the Rush is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle equipped with either a 4-speed A/T (G Grade) or a 5-speed M/T (E Grade).

Given the predominance of 6-speed up to 8-speed A/Ts in new cars these days, the Rush’s 4-speed A/T is a letdown.

Toyota Motor Philippines officials unveil the Toyota Rush. From left, president Satoru Suzuki, senior executive vice president Dr. David Go, vice chairman Alfred Ty, Marketing Division executive vice president Kei Mizuguchi, and Marketing Division senior vice president Jose Maria Atienza

But the similarities end there. The Rush is available in two variants: as a 7-seater (1.5 G A/T) and as a 5-seater (1.5 E A/T and 1.5 E M/T), while the Avanza is only offered as a 7-seater.

Safety array

The most surprising difference between the Rush and the Avanza is the Rush’s array of safety features across all variants.

Aside from the usual anti-lock brake system with electronic brake force distribution, all variants of the Rush have six SRS airbags (driver, passenger, front side and curtain shield), vehicle stability control with traction control, hill start assist and emergency stop signal, LED headlamps, LED rear combination lamps, LED type high mount stop lamp, front fog lamps, backup sensor, and alarm with immobilizer.

Those safety features are usually found only in more expensive vehicles, yet all Rush variants offer more goodies, such as 220-mm ground clearance, push start system, dual front and rear air conditioning, optitron meter gauges with multi-information display, a 7-inch capacitive audio system with CD/MP3, aux, USB, Bluetooth, and Web link for IOS/Android.

Amenities

In addition, in terms of amenities, the 1.5 G Grade has roof rails, a 3-spoke leather steering wheel with audio and telephone switch, eight speakers (compared to the E Grade’s six), backup camera, 17-inch alloy wheels (compared to the E Grade’s 16-inches), and smart proximity entry (while the E Grade has keyless entry).

The trunk capacity of the E Grade Rush is naturally larger at 514 liters than the G Grade’s 213 liters because the E Grade is a 5-seater.

Cupholders and storage spaces galore make the 7-seater Rush a family-friendly, long-distance-ready people carrier.

Bottom line

With six airbags and vehicle stability control as standard equipment, the Rush has raised the bar of safety for all affordable SUVs.

Its size, midway between the class-leading, pickup truck-based Toyota Innova MPV and the subcompact Avanza, plus its availability as either a 7-seater or 5-seater, means keen competition ahead for 5-seaters like the Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Juke and Ford EcoSport as well as 7-seaters like the Honda Mobilio, Honda BR-V and Suzuki Ertiga.

Meanwhile, suspense surrounds the next most logical question: Just like the Innova replaced the Revo, will the Rush eventually replace the Avanza, which debuted 15 years ago in 2003?



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